I'm a new GM. Several of my PCs really enjoy crafting/potion-making/resource-farming and have builds that are well-suited to it. In the past I wanted to reward their enthusiasm for searching for new materials and cool uses for them, so I supplied a lot of interesting materials on the map and in the monsters they killed. However, these resource farming and crafting activites are taking more and more of our time. These processes have also ballooned into a lot of shared spreadsheets tracking what we have, where to find it, what it does, and how much crafting uses.
At this point, I'm looking to dial this back because it's getting tedious for me to plan for and preside over, not to mention that our barbarian and sorcerer don't have a lot to do when we spend all day standing around a cauldron brewing potions. They're good sports about it, and they both benefit from the supply of crafted stuff. However, they visibly check out during the crafting portions of the sessions.
However, I'm not really sure how to back out of the current state of affairs without overturning our pre-established knowledge about crafting. For example, since the PCs already know that there's X ore on Y mountain (or X herb in Y NPC's garden, or x monster has y poison sacs that can be used to augment z special arrows... etc. etc. etc.), I can't really stop them from going to the right place to look for what they want or from spending a day gathering and processing it into items or potions. Furthermore, I don't want to undermine their considerable investment in having learned about all these materials, especially after I seeded them in the map in the first place.
- Letting things happen on their own clock in game. For example, when the PCs used 3 days to mine quartz in the mountains on the way to Plot Village, my demon attack happened without them on the day I'd planned. Their mission became investigating the attack and tracking the aggressors down, but the group was irritated because they said they couldn't have known the attack was imminent.
- Assigning progressively higher DCs to areas that they've already harvested resource from. Sometimes this works; sometimes when they're really committed to getting the thing, they take a long rest and search again the next day--rinse and repeat until they get it.
- Tying plot hooks to player backstories, and asking players more directly in our group check-ins what kinds of adventures would interest them. I wondered if they were farming because they weren't interested in the plot hooks, but they say that they're invested (and I'm REALLY trying to plan meaningful adventures) and that they just want to get better stuff before doing the plot...
TLDR: how do I then gently discourage players from spending a lot of time resource farming or crafting without limiting their agency? The 2 PCs that craft really like it, but we're consistently spending about half of every session, multiple in-game days, and a couple follow-up emails per session doing craft-adjacent activities, and they prioritize resource gathering over the actual game plot.
- How do I rebalance this?
- What nudges can I use?
- What are some constructive ways to open a conversation with them about scaling back the crafting?